The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

The Dying Game

Asa Avdic

Combining suspense, unexpected twists, psychological gamesmanship, and a sinister dystopian future, The Dying Game conjures a world in which one woman is forced to ask, "Can I save my life by staging my death?".

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A masterly locked-room mystery set in a near-future Orwellian state—for fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Dave Eggers’ The Circle, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games
Do you live to play? Or play to live?

The year is 2037. The Soviet Union never fell, and much of Europe has been consolidated under the totalitarian Union of Friendship. On the tiny island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a forty-eight-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic bureaucrat with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment: to stage her own death and then to observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the six other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure? But then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins. . . .
Combining suspense, unexpected twists, psychological gamesmanship, and a sinister dystopian future, The Dying Game conjures a world in which one woman is forced to ask, “Can I save my life by staging my death?”

Advance Galley Reviews

Set in 2037 in The Protectorate of Sweden, this is the story of Anna Francis, who works for a foreign aid organization. She has recently returned from overseeing an aid mission in a war-torn, impoverished area called Kyzyl Kum. Although the aid mission is widely accepted as being a success, the truth is that something went horribly wrong there. Anna is haunted by this mission and suffers from PTSD. She is barely sleeping and just going through the motions at her bureaucratic job when she is summoned to an audience with the Chairman and receives an offer that she really cannot refuse. She agrees to assist in judging several candidates for a job with the elite, secretive RAN group. But, in order to fully test the character and strengths of these candidates, she and they will be placed in an unusual situation. Presenting herself as another job candidate, Anna is to join the others in a house on a ruggedly remote island. Anna is instructed to fake her own death with the assistance of another member of the group who is a doctor. Then Anna is to observe the reactions of the others by spying on them through peepholes in false walls built throughout the house. But, of course, nothing goes according to plan. First, Anna is surprised that one of the job candidates is Henry Falls, who is both Anna’s colleague and Anna’s secret crush. Then, after Anna’s “death”, others from the group begin to disappear. Anna is both shocked and unprepared for these developments and struggles with herself over how she should respond. Should she disobey the orders to keep herself hidden and to do nothing but observe? Is there anything she can do to help the victims? Who are the victims, and who are the villains? And is Anna herself in grave danger? This all plays out during a raging storm, so there is no possibility of communicating with anyone off of the island, and there is no way of leaving the island, since they were delivered by a boat which then returned to the mainland. I really liked this book. It was confusing and thus a bit frightening, and I was unable to foresee even the next turn of events, let alone the conclusion. I do not understand why it was set in the future, other than to make possible the power of the totalitarian government. And I wish that more of the book’s questions had been directly answered by the end of the book. But I enjoyed reading it and look forward to more by this author. I think that the translation from Swedish was done very well, and I greatly prefer the Swedish title (Isola, which is the name of the island). Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for the opportunity to read and review this book in return for an honest review.

The Dying Game is an example of me reading outside of my comfort zone. I discovered this year that I enjoy thrillers, so I snagged this one from Penguin First Reads and I was looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately for me, this one didn’t hit the mark. I’m not sure if something was lost in translation, but I never really cared about what happened to any of the characters. I kept reading because I wanted to know what the point was and what the job that Anna was hired for was all about. But really, the whole thing was confusing and just… I didn’t care. I think there’s probably some political / sociological message within this story that was supposed to come across, but my only take away was that this was an incredibly depressing book with a bunch of flat and unlikeable characters. Would I recommend this one? No, I honestly can’t say that I would. I only give it as high a rating as I did because I really didn’t expect the book to end the way that it did, and I always respect an author who can do that.

When I've received my copy of this novel, I had high expectations because I love psychology thrillers. It's one of my favorite genre. Overall it's okay but it wasn't for me. Thank you first to read for my advanced readers copy.

I was expecting kind of a modern, futuristic twist on And Then There Were None. It wasn't quite what I got, but it was somewhat close and still fairly intriguing. We had a group of people who were sent to an island to compete for a job position. The main character Anna was supposed to be there to monitor the other candidates for the position. So they fake her death, so she can observe how the others act under pressure. But as Anna observes, the others start to mysteriously disappear. The mystery of what was going on kept me reading, but at times the book did start to drag. There were a lot of flashback scenes and jumping around on timelines and some of that material just wasn't the most exciting. I did enjoy getting to see some scenes from Henry's perspective, a former associate of Anna's who she had always been interested in. The reveal was pretty good, so I'd suggest that you keep reading even if you start to lose interest.

I was really looking forward to reading this book. The plot sounds so intriguing, but I really couldn't get into the story. I had trouble even reading it.

I’m not sure what happened while I was reading this book, but I just couldn’t connect to the characters and story line. I found the best part of the book was when you find out that Henry actually does care for Anna. I won’t spoil the rest of what happens between the two of them. Sadly, it too 3/4 of the book to feel the suspense of this book. I might have to pick this book again and try it again sometime.

I guess at where the story of The Dying Game by Asa Avdic is going. The "how" is the roller coaster ride of this book which the reader takes right along with the main character Anna Francis. By the end, I am left with a question. What happens next? This last question arises not because the story feels incomplete but because Anna's character becomes real. This question is what warrants the success of this storytelling. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

A Penguin First to Read ARC e-book in exchange for an honest review. I am struggling with my thoughts on this book. It was very slow read at the start then all the action happened in the last third of the book. It wasn't a bad story but it was so slow in the beginning that I lost interest and didn't really care anymore about the details I just wanted answers and to be done. I wonder if the way the last half of the book was written could have been peppered into the beginning to make it more interesting throughout? It was a solid book. Just go in expecting it to be slow at the start.

This distopian world was so creepy and unsettling. I really liked that the reader wasn't given a lot of detailed information about the Communist-like government that was manipulating our characters. It made the story more frightening. I just wish I understood the ending a little better

I got this as part of First To Read and I can't believe I almost DNF'd it. I found it a little strange at first but as I got more deeper into the story, I found it very exciting and couldn't get enough of it. I can't wait to read more. If you enjoy a good dystopian thriller, I think you'll really enjoy this. Its a thriller that centers around a secret stress test for a group of candidates to be considered for a special project in the government. Loved this and you will too.

The Dying Game, while interesting and good with the mystery aspects of the story, kind of left me hanging overall. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I feel as if there was a lot of build up and backstory and then when it actually came to the house experiment, things just flew by without much explanation or reason. I found it difficult to understand the world that they were living in, although I did understand that it was supposed to be in an dystopian future type setting. Even though they were keeping secrets from the characters, I also felt like secrets were being kept from me! Even though the exercise was exciting, seeing people being removed one by one, I didn't really understand the point. It was short read though, and some of the writing was really great so can't complain too hard, right?

I love a good locked room mystery which is what this book was touted as, so to say I was excited to read it was an understatement. I did enjoy the mystery aspect of the story with the candidates secluded on an island for the weekend but I felt like the story as a whole was missing a few key elements. The most noticeable element missing was the worldbuilding. There was hardly any background detail given upfront on the world they were living in so I felt like I was looking into a world from a far that I didn't quite understand and from the lack of details about it and their government, it was hard to tie their world together with how it effected the necessity for this extreme exercise to find the perfect candidate for their secret position. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept me on my toes and I liked the island exercise narrowing down the candidates but I had to suspend my disbelief to really enjoy it. I think the story does have a lot of potential though if there's a thorough expansion on the worldbuilding.

Although the synopsis was so promising, the actual execution was just lacking. I found the story dull, the characters were non-appealing nor fleshed out. Overall, the story was meh..

The Dying Game has a very intriguing plot summary, but it fails to deliver. The world was overly complex and never really explained. I think I finally understood the world more by re-reading the plot summary again. I should have understood this already from reading the book. For such a short book, the story felt like it really dragged in parts. I also felt like it was a little rushed when they were on the island. I enjoyed the interviews at the end, but the beginning and middle sections were really boring and hard to get through.

I just could not get into this at all. It starts off really complex, and maybe on a different day I could get past that and enjoy the world building. But on the day I tried to read it, I was overwhelmed and looking for lighter fare.

A clever story, but I'm not really sure that I totally understand the whole point of it. Anna, the main character, is tasked with going to an island to watch over supposed candidates for an exercise that would leave her free to finally care for her daughter and mother. However, as in all stories really, things go terribly wrong. What entails is a complete story full of twists and turns. But, in the end, I'm left wondering why such extreme measures were necessary.

I was very intrigued with the story premise for this novel but was unable to push through the slow start of it to actually stay interested.

The Dying Game is more of a political thriller than a mystery but the plot was intriguing and well thought out. I can't say it was an easy read it was a slow start but picked up towards the end . For me it seemed choppy and difficult to get into but the idea of the plot was different and intriguing. Set in the near future and following a protagonist, Anna Fransis, with her many issues and a horrific past the story quickly becomes political. Anna as well as six others are put into and experiment on a secluded island to weed out the best candidate for a top secret political job. The experiment uses the candidates worse vices and protagonist them, and puts them in the highest level of stress to see who fares best or "makes it out alive."The entire experiment is morally and ethically wrong but when things go south it is no surprise . It was interesting that in the end it seems as though even the things that went horribly wrong were orchestrated. I can not say this was the easiest or best written book however the plot was interesting ans it was short read. The idea behind it was different and interesting but it also shows how corrupt, manipulating and backstabbing government officials can be. This had to be the worst interview possible going to the extreme of triggering someones PTSD. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys intrigue, and political thrillers but it comes with a disclaimer about the writing. This is not one I would read again but I do not think I lost anything from reading it.

If you're looking for a novel that combines the best elements of The Most Dangerous Game and 1984, check out The Dying Game. You can't trust any of the characters, and no situation is quite as it seems. But the creepiest part of the book is that you're never sure what the characters know, and there's a good chance that someone is always watching (and possibly controlling) them. The mystery builds at a steady pace and the ending was almost a surprise.

There are books where it seems everyone loves it, there are those you could burn to keep warm without a faint shred of remorse and then there are those that fall somewhere in between. I have a feeling this will be the latter. You want to love it but there is just something that stops it from being one you would hand over your credit card for without even bothering to check the price. Unfortunately it seems there were just one too many holes in the storyline which was very surprising considering the synopsis is attention grabbing. The book talks a lot about government but you never get a solid sense of exactly what kind of government is currently in rule, what are their motivations, why do they make the kind of laws they do, etc. The premise is interesting but it almost feels like the author wrote out an outline with some really cool ideas but didn’t take the same time and effort to ensure the filler inbetween was the same caliber or at the very least complete enough to keep your attention going to the next idea. My attention kept straying and feeling frustrated by the lack of plausible world construct or other characters actions coming off out of place considering what we know about how this ‘future’ world works. The characters and setting were not well developed. I wanted to like Anna, since the story revolves around her, but her dialogue is very stilted as if she’s reading one line at a time and feels unsure herself if what she’s saying makes sense. There are positives so don’t give up hope: One it’s a very small book. Two it’s fast paced. Three it’s the kind of thing you can read during commercials or if you’re in need of something for a class assignment and you think reading books should be outlawed because you’ll get through it quick and it doesn’t require you to pay attention. There is actually a great deal of potential here and since it’s the author’s first book hopefully they can take what they did here and make it better next time.

I am always, without fail, automatically interested in a book that has 'Game' in the title. Combine that with the knowledge that this book is a dystopian psychological thriller where no one is who they seem to be, where motives are murky, and where the protagonists may also be unreliable narrators, and you have the perfect book for me. The year is 2037 in Sweden, and citizens live their lives in the shadow of the Union of Friendship, a Communist-style totalitarian government with questionable motivations that operates through unnerving opaque machinations, mind games, and dilemmas with no way out. Anna Francis is sent to an isolated island called Isola in the company of five other people and a medical doctor, ostensibly to undergo a 48-hour stress test as a candidate for a mysterious but highly desirable government job. Her job is to fake her own murder and then observe the other candidates via cameras and hidden wall spaces as they cope with and react to the situation so that she can submit a report to the hiring committee after the test is over. When you have a plot that has so many twists and obfuscated driving forces, it's easy to go wrong -- to neglect some of the characters, invent motivations that don't hold up well to scrutiny, or drop in smug gotchas via graceless reveals. However, Avdic has given us a tight plot with revelations doled out carefully and slyly, allowing readers to draw their conclusions, while remaining evasive about the rest. She keeps the reader guessing about what secrets the characters might be keeping, and ultimately, whether the characters can be trusted at all. The book gets off to a slow start. It wasn't until 20-25% of the way in (when Anna gets to the island and is introduced to the other characters) that I felt excited and hooked. The initial chapters are awkwardly written -- sentences were mostly in passive voice and overly focused on details ("It did calm me down enough so that I could tie my shoes, pull my jacket around my shoulders, take my bags, and go up on deck"). There were quite a few sentences like this that insisted on listing out multiple inconsequential actions. I also doubt it was necessary for the reader to know that Henry wore both a hat and mittens in the winter and that Anna couldn't tell if he would tan or burn in the sun. Seriously? Anyway, my point is that I wondered during these initial chapters whether the book was translated to English from another language or if there had been a change in editors partway through the book. This is a shame because some readers may give up on what is a riveting, well-plotted book after such a shaky start. Despite all the dialogue being shrouded in vague implications and excuses about classified information, the secretary caught my interest when he explained to Anna what her role was to be. However, Avdic then spends a chapter giving us Anna's backstory and introducing us to her mother Nour and daughter Siri, which diverts the flow of the story and, thanks to the nature of their relationships, burdens the reader emotionally from the start. I tried to think if there was another place where this information could have been introduced, but had Avdic used flashbacks later in the book, we would have lost the poignancy of Anna and Siri's strained relationship and the immediacy of what Anna stands to lose. Perhaps Avdic could have shortened these scenes and shown Anna and her mother's estranged relations elsewhere. When we finally learn what Anna did in Kyzylkum that she wants so badly to forget, it's been hyped up and obliquely referred to in hushed whispers so much that the reveal is a letdown. It's also never quite explained why Anna, who seems to have been a foreign-aid worker, would be asked to work in intelligence. What exactly was her normal office job before Kyzylkum and before the Isola test? We also don't know why the other supposed candidates would qualify for an intelligence job, considering they are all so highly recognizable and have training in totally different fields. The book has a bare-bones feel to it. We don't get to know the secondary characters well at all, and we really don't know much about Anna or Henry, either. There is a general vagueness that permeates every description Anna gives us. Sure, there are nice sensory descriptions, but what do we KNOW about this cast of characters? Nevertheless, the story still works. Perhaps more fully fleshed characters would have distracted from the plot. This book was promoted with several descriptions that I found inaccurate: 1) "The Dying Game conjures a world in which one woman is forced to ask, 'Can I save my life by staging my death?'" (I don't think this question was even relevant at any point. Anna doesn't stage her death as a way to save her life. She does it as a way to have her past erased. Nor does she ask the question of herself; she's coerced into the task by the government.) 2) "A masterly locked-room mystery set in a near-future Orwellian state—for fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Dave Eggers’ The Circle, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games" (I think it's a stretch to refer to being on the island as a 'locked room' and none of the three books listed for comparison match up well with The Dying Game's atmosphere and theme -- though I do happen to be a fan of all three of those books AND The Dying Game! Instead, I might compare this book a dystopian cat-and-mouse game of Clue where nothing and no one is as they seem, The Westing Game, or recent books that emulate Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, where people disappear one by one. Of course, I recognize that the person who wrote this blurb is trying to ride the coattails of recent popular franchises; I just think that the three given are very unlikely comparisons.)

It was very difficult to get a grasp of the story at the start. I had many questions at the start. It felt like I was missing so much information. Once the story really got going, it was very intriguing! It kept me on the edge!

This book kept me guessing from start to finish. The writing was beautifully poignant. Characters were fully fleshed and each had their own flaws and failings. I would definitely recommend this book!

The beginning of the The Dying Game was a bizarre combination of slow and diving in too quickly. I felt almost like I picked up a story in the middle because I had so many questions. While I am sure this was done to build suspense, I wasn't sure I was willing to read long enough to find the answers. I am so glad I did! Avdic's use of multiple perspective's did a brilliant job of providing just enough information to keep us guessing, and in my case, guessing wrong. Her writing of Anna built layers upon layers onto what at first seemed a flat character. Anna manages to come across as a wonderful mixture of confident and insecure at the same time, and while in some characters that may seem inconsistent, in Anna, it seems to be the combination of her personality and experiences. I am torn of the choice of a dystopian setting. While I can understand that the idea of such a manipulating government might want a setting other than our present tense, so much of this book happened on the island. The island, and the Chairman, and the test all seemed like it could have been any government agency going a bit rogue. Add that to the fact that not much seemed to have changed as far as their living conditions with the exception of TV programing, and all of the dystopian details, such as new country names, were distracting.

I enjoyed reading this book and thought the ending - while frustratingly open and hazy - was one that fit the story. I would have hoped for a more conclusive and satisfying finish, but at the same time, I feel like the ending of The Dying Game was purposefully constructed to enhance the feeling of hopelessness and confusion, and in that it succeeded fully. The action of this book takes place in 2037 Stockholm and on a remote Isola Island. It's a near-future totalitarian state that is part of Union of Friendship, and that brings to mind a dystopian society much like the ones described in Orwell's 1984 (absolute government control, manipulation, top secret projects ran in the background, surveillance, government organizations controlling everyone and everything). It's a scary, but completely realistic vision that is quite unsettling. The story revolves mainly around Anna Francis, a former foreign aid worker suffering from PTSD, who is asked to play the role of an observer during a top-secret test designed by the government to select one person for the intelligence position (RAN). It's a stress test for the other competitors. Anna is to fake her own death (it is staged as a murder by strangulation), and she then is hiding away at a secret level of the house, where she can observe the reactions of all of the candidates. What's supposed to be a relatively simple 48-hour task quickly turns out to be a much more complicated and dangerous one when, one after another, all of the other contestants begin to vanish into thin air and Anna begins to suspect that something much more sinister is going on. The Dying Game, while set in a dystopian world, was more of a political high-stake thriller and a mystery than it was a typical dystopian novel. I'd go as far as to call it psychological thriller. The action was slow-moving and there was a lot of foreshadowing of Anna's character, but not much in terms of the other characters at all. We didn't get a whole lot of details about the society set up either, just the vague and bone-chilling impression of the government being all-powerful, unstoppable, manipulative and highly dangerous. I enjoyed the plot of this book, the sinister atmosphere and the underlying, ever-present tension. It was a good read overall, and I would definitely recommend to anyone who likes political thrillers, mysteries and not-so-good endings.

This premise sounded so interesting, but the execution lacked for me. I wanted a high speed thriller- which would be anticipated when words like "unexpected twists" and "psychological gamesmanship" are used as key descriptors for a book. This book fell short and ended up being very difficult for me to slog through- which is unfortunate as I was so very excited about it. I did not connect with Anna or any other character unfortunately- perhaps due to the nature of a Soviet Union society in 2037. I think this book would be interesting for people who are interested in the politics behind the game, but otherwise it was not the best in my opinion. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review this novel through First to Read.

I thought this book was an interesting, quick, easy read. The plot helped to move the story forward. The ending makes it easy to continue as a series; however, it still leaves the reader satisfied. I really liked the secret passages in the house on the isola. I thought that was clever. I liked the quote in the first part of the book that said "...when asked about how his financial ruin came about, he responds, 'Gradually and then suddenly.'" Some items that jarred me while reading were: --the repetitive use of 'on the one hand' --'kind hands and large brown eyes' this seems like it should have been written as 'large hands and kind brown eyes' --'the weapon couldn't be taken itself from the cabinet' I give this a solid 3 out of 5 stars and would not mind reading another book by this author.

“This is where we’ll place you when you’re dead.” These are the words that Anna hopes will lead to her freedom. Anna Francis is a single mother living in a future totalitarian Swedish society. The year is 2037 and the future is bleak. Anna is back at her old job, barely surviving her day to day life, when she is called to meet with The Chairman. In the meeting she is given the opportunity that may save her life. Participate in one task, 48 hours of service, and in exchange receive a sum of money that will enable her to live the rest of her life in peace. A group of individuals will be placed on an isolated island, Isola. They are all being evaluated for a position high in the government. Anna will be murdered the first night, and then remain hidden behind the walls to observe how each candidate handles the stress of this extreme situation. Of course, things aren’t quite what they seem, and the moment she sees Henry, a man from her past, things get complicated for Anna very quickly. First, the Doctor with whom Anna is partners in the truth with, also gets murdered. Or does she? Anna sees her dead body, but is knocked unconscious. When she wakes up, neither the body or the Doctor is anywhere to be found. And then the others begin to disappear, one by one. While we try and figure out what is actually happening on the island, we learn that Anna was suffering already from some fairly serious PTSD from her previous assignment. And the more we learn about her past, the more we begin to wonder what the true intention of this test is. And if anyone was intended to make it off the island at all. Anyone who is a fan of Black Mirror will love this novel. As in the show, the plot and twists aren’t shocking for the sake of shock, but more subtle and nuanced. They are events that unfold slowly and then all at once. Each glimpse into Anna’s past makes the current events more foreboding and suspicious. And the reality of what could be happening is frightening. Avdic does a brilliant job with the details of writing this society. The drabness of clothing, details within elaborate government buildings to contrast the rest of the surroundings, even cobblestone bombed streets, all serve to paint a dreary picture. You feel that you are in Cold War-esque Germany or Russia. A society where everyone is the same, trying to blend in while the leaders show their differences in opulence alone. It all lends to a sense of reality that sometimes dystopians are lacking. There aren’t high tech tricks to move the plot along. It simply drives forward in the uncomfortable reality we can so easily envision. Woven into alternating narration are chapters from Henry’s perspective. These are fewer than Anna’s, but serve to give us a better look at Anna herself. How Henry sees her. Which doesn’t seem important on the surface of the story, but it is vital to the ending. The final twist isn’t so much shocking, as it is twisted. You feel complicit in the manipulation, even though you’re just the reader. This is a book of political intrigue, yes, but also one of psychological warfare. How far will a government go to control their people. What extremes will they consider? As you read the end, it isn’t so much the extreme of events but how realistic they could be that are the most haunting. It is the chilling reality of this novel that makes is so terrifying. The day to day lives of citizens in this society is in all ways controlled. The extremes that Anna’s mother took, and that even Anna herself considers, all illustrate this control. While it may seem that Anna had a choice in the initial assignment we know she doesn’t. ‘No’ is not something this government humors. The Dying Game is a classic dystopian reminiscent of Huxley and Orwell. It isn’t lengthy but packs a concise punch within it’s pages. And like Huxley and Orwell, this isn’t a novel about the government or the world they live in. It is a dissection of human experience. Of how psychology plays a role in submitting to such a totalitarian regime. It is an examination of the human psyche. I read this book in a day. Anyone who has a love for the classics, and especially an appreciation for the twisted manipulations of Black Mirror should enjoy this novel. A solid 4/5 stars.

Didn't really hold my interest. Not sure why.

The synopsis made the premise sound very appealing, but the execution left a lot to be desired. There was a lot of "world-building" of Anna's backstory and quite a bit of perspective switching. There wasn't enough character development and there wasn't enough character building for me to like the characters one way or another. The information we did get was int he form of information dumps and "flashbacks." The end came abruptly and with a disappointing ending. I would probably rate this a solid 1 star - I did not like it and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Appealing premise (dystopian "And Then There Were None"!) but sadly fell short. It felt like too much time was spent setting up the backstory and not enough on what was supposed to be the "thrilling" part of the novel. All the characters besides Anna and Henry felt like afterthoughts, and the main characters themselves were completely unlikeable. The plot twist is highly predictable if you're familiar with Christie's masterpiece, and honestly I think the book really suffers for how much material is drawn from that story. If the author had mixed it up a bit, I think it would have been easier to view it on its own merits instead of in comparison to Christie's book.

I did not find this to be a well-written book and I gave up at page 80. Maybe the plot redeems the poor writing later on, but I was just too annoyed by this book to continue. Near the beginning of the book, the protagonist Anna Francis, an aid worker (and neglectful mother of a young daughter) travels through a sleet storm to get to a meeting. Once there, she hears the hum of the air conditioning unit. Really? I should have stopped reading there but I continued. Anna is offered a ton of money to help evaluate candidates for the secret RAN project. She is to pretend to be a candidate and then fake her murder to determine how the real candidates handle a stressful situation. This seems like a pretty easy job and the fact that she was singled out for it and then offered a lot to take the job should have been a giant red flag, but apparently Anna is terminally stupid. Since I didn't finish the book I don't know how things turned out for Anna, but I'm guessing not well. On the island, one of the candidates is described as being "lovely in a worn sort of way, like an aging author". What are Earth does that mean? Once congregated on the island, the Chairman tells the candidates not to discuss with each other the reason why each of them is on the island. Shouldn't he have told them this before they have all been chatting away with each other in a room waiting for his arrival? The combination of bad writing, translation and editing of this book was going to drive me crazy. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

While the synopsis of the book sounded promising, the story itself turned out to be lacking. I felt there was a lot of build-up to a let-down of an ending. I was also left with a lot more questions at the end of the book than I had when I first started.

This is one of those times where the premise is better than the actual story. I thought I was getting into something that would be intensely thrilling and packed with action. Instead, this book was slow paced, with tons of little anecdotes on Anna's life before this competition. The author switched between different points in time and different characters. While this was interesting and appreciated, it made it super easy to guess what happened and what was going to happen in terms of the competition. That was a bit of a let-down because I was hoping it would be something of a mystery or a twist ... and there wasn't one. The novel may be set in 2037 but there really wasn't too much that made it different than 2017, so that was a bit useless in my opinion. Overall, this novel just let me down. I was expecting a thriller but instead, I got an okay novel about a competition where I had already guessed the main points of the story.

This is one of those books where the synopsis makes the book sound better than it actually is. I wanted action, suspense, and unexpected twists and what we got was just a boring book with not much plot and an annoying main character. Anna is offered a chance to comfortably live with her daughter for the rest of their lives if she agrees to collaborate with the government and be part of a test for a top-secret intelligence position. All she has to do is fake her own death and then spy on the candidates and report back how each handles the pressure of her unexpected murder. Sounds like it would make a pretty interesting and entertaining read, right? No. I was so bored reading this that I had to force myself to finish it. My biggest issue was that I did not connect with any of the characters. Our main character, Anna, was boring and annoying. I hated every decision she made, starting with leaving her daughter to live with her mother for her entire life. This really made me sad that she didn't care to have a relationship with her daughter. I have a really hard time liking a story if I don't like the main characters, or in this case,  any of the characters at all. If Anna didn't make such dumb decisions, I might have been able to get over the boring plot. But no. She just got more annoying as the book went on. She made horrible decisions that I just did not agree with and spent the majority of the book pining after unrequited love. This book is supposed to take place in the future, but I did not get that feel at all. It seemed like the story could have taken place in present time and it would have had zero effect on the story. This book is supposed to be a dystopian society but the book didn't go into world descriptions at all besides talking about some sort of war.  You get no information on the war or the world whatsoever, besides the fact that our main character was in charge of a refugee camp. I wish the world had been described a little bit more so we could get a better dystopian vibe and a little more insight as to what was going on. I rate this book 2 stars out of 5. Publication date is August 1, 2017. Thank you to Penguin's First to Read Program for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Dying Game book summary teased me with an interesting premise. While the main reason for the title was introduced early on, the story seemed to drag on from there. The back-and-forth perspectives were hard to keep straight, and I didn't connect deeply with any of the characters. I struggled to get through the book as I found myself skimming through, hoping to finish. Since it required a bit more focus, I might try to pick it up again later when I can devote all my attention (a long car ride or something.)

DNF at almost 50% 1/5 stars. This is the second time I abandoned a galley. Unfortunately, there was no getting around it. I spent the entirety of what I read hating the characters, and being bored out of my mind. I kept forcing myself to continue, though, because I felt bad about not finishing and being unable to give a full review. As it is, I didn't even make it to the point where the MC is supposed to fake her death (hence, the uninterest in the story). Most of the first half of the book is the MC's life story, which is repeated many times, and lacked anything that would pull me in or make me care about the character. I figured I wasn't going to like The Dying Game, when in one of the beginning chapters the MC is fantasizing about a man sleeping with another woman. Since it didn't go into detail, I chose to give the story a shot, despite my reluctance to continue, as I am uncomfortable with such content. There was also quite a bit of cussing, and the inappropriate content escalates with a sex scene. Thus, I'm choosing not to finish it, as I have no wish to read such things.

When I first read the summary of this book, I was very excited to read a dystopian novel in the vain of The Handmaid's Tale, The Circle and The Hunger Games. This book is certainly more mystery than dystopian and will probably be appreciated more by Agatha Christie fans than those of Atwood, Eggers and Collins. The RAN Project, a top-secret department (so top-secret, that the reader never discovers it purpose), recruits Anna Francis to observe candidates for one of their positions. The plan is for her to fake her own death to witness how the candidates react to this turn of events. But, the candidates start disappearing and no one knows why. To add a bit more intrigue, Anna's crush, Henry, is one of the candidates. One good thing about the book is that it's a quick read. It's fast-paced and interesting enough to read in a night. But, in the end, the book fell flat. We didn't learn enough about the main characters, the organization recruiting the candidates, the purpose of the job or even the futuristic world where everything takes place. It was a fairly one-dimensional book that gets your heart pumping but you will forget about the story by the end of the week. Thank you to First to Read for an advanced copy of this book.

I had a hard time putting this book down. It was an interesting concept, and I kept reading to find out more of the story. The writer was able to switch perspectives several times between a couple of different characters, and then also into 3rd person. This helped the reader to be more sympathetic towards the first person characters. At times I wish they had gone into more detail about her past, but that wasn't the focus of the book. It was all about the 48 hours on the island and what happened afterwards. I loved how it ended, too. It felt like two endings, because the story first ended for one character, and then there was a short chapter for the other. If you liked M. Night Shyamalan movies, how there is always an unexpected twist at the end, you'll love this one. When the book ended, I just sat there in shock for a few minutes processing everything. I don't want to give away anything in the book, as I think it's better to just have the publisher's description before you start.

I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review via first to read. Although it starts out slow this novel does not fail to deliver! It is full of nail biting suspense, drama and twists that even at the end it leaves you wanting more!

While I found the first part of this book difficult to get into, the more I read, the faster the pages seemed to turn. The story unfolds in 2037 in the Protectorate of Sweden, part of the Union of Friendship. Anna Francis recently returned from a difficult project and has been chosen to test a group of candidates for a new project. After arriving on a small island, she has to stage her own death and watch the reactions of the candidates as they deal with the stress of having a possible murderer in their midst. Traveling through passages behind the walls, she spies on the others as the test progresses. When she comes across another body, the test deteriorates rapidly. Setting her story on a tiny island with an. Incoming storm and no communication, Asa Avdic created a perfect atmosphere for a Christie style mystery. There are some good twists toward the end and it is difficult to discover who the real candidate is and who is really being tested.

I was quite excited after reading the premise of The Dying Game, which sounded like a combination of George Orwell, and Agatha Christie, with a little Suzanne Collins thrown in. Sadly though, I struggled to finish it. The main problem for me was the lack of character development. I was unable to connect with Annie or anyone else. This made it difficult to care about the outcome of the story. As far as the plot goes, there wasn't enough background information given and not enough suspense. Overall, I thought the book got off to a confusing start and never really recovered.

This book was much different than what was advertised. I expected a fast paced mystery thriller; instead I found a slow political drama. I gave this book 100 pages, hoping the characters would develop and the plot would speed up, but I was disappointed. The book got off to a confusing start and didn't improve much from there.

This one is going to be hard to review without spoilers, but I’ll do the best I can. I received an ARC of The Dying Game through the First to Read program. I initially chose it because I thought it might eventually be a good comp for one of my novels. It was thriller set in the near future and it had a female protagonist trying to get over something bad. That part of the concept seemed neat. The whole set up with people disappearing from a secluded house filled with secret passages was cliche. Overall, the book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I get part of the thriller genre is to keep people guessing, but some of the details the author choose to leave out were downright distracting. For example, I never quite figured out the main character actually did at her job. I was constantly thinking about this instead of the story, and as a result, found myself constantly getting pulled out of the story. While the author skimped on details that seemed important, there were large swaths of back story that was just told, and more info dumps than I could count. I kept thinking that all this was going to be relevant when I got to the end. Some of it was -- but the end would have been far more surprising had the backstory been woven through in a more subtle way. Because of the info dumps and long, told, segments of flashbacks, the end was pretty much exactly what I was expecting, though, I admit, there were a few times in the middle where I thought I was wrong, and found myself hoping in vain for a more optimistic ending. I also felt most of the characters were unnessarily sexist and binary. After reading two books with intersex and genderfluid leads, this felt like a slap in the face. I can see a female writer making the men seem a bit misogynistic to make a point, but there could have been at least one female character who wasn’t a stereotype of one kind or another… Despite the many flaws of the The Dying Game, I did keep reading until the end, even though I considered giving up a couple times. The prose were pretty -- there was good literary scenary that made it a little less painful. I also wanted to know if I was right about where the plot was going, and really hate to leave a novel unfinished (House of Leaves is still siting on my book case, mocking me. It doesn’t need a friend.) So I kept reading, and got to the ending I really wished I had been wrong about. I my head, this book is 2.5 stars, but Goodreads and Amazon don’t give that option, so I’m rounding up when I review on those sites.

I so wanted this to be a Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies type of book.  Instead it was a story of a bunch of people that we know nothing about and two main characters, Henry and Anna, who we find out too much about.  There was way too much back story on them and it didn't enhance the plot at all.  When the 48-hour test started, it was over so fast that I felt really let down.  This book could have been so much more.  The mystery was hardly a mystery at all and the ending was confusing and left me very unsatisfied.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but it doesn't match up to other psychological thrillers I have read. The basic premise is that a woman has to pretend to be dead to evaluate other candidates for a position. Then things start to go wrong. The story is mainly told through Anna and Henry. You get flashbacks for both of them and the character of Anna is built well. You get a chance to understand her past and her motivations. Most of Henry's memories revolve around Anna so he is not as fleshed out. The setting was a bit tough to figure out. part of putting a story in an alternate setting should be the world building. For me it never quite got there. It was also unclear why this had to be in an alternate setting. Nothing in the story really hinged on the world setting. This book never fully reached its potential for me. About 1/3 of the way through this book I was thinking it would be cool if we got to read each person's perspective rather than only Anna and Henry. At the conclusion of the book my wish was granted, but it was too little too late. If you have to read every decent psychological thriller with a twist ending, then go ahead and read this. Otherwise you can pass.

The book is set in a future dystopian society located in Europe. Under the pretense of testing candidates for a classified position in a classified group, Anna Francis is recruited to help with the process. Her orders are to present herself as a fellow candidate, stage her own death, and observe how well the other candidates react to the situation. The book was well written and had my absolute attention. I could not put it down and wanted to read it to the end in one go to find out what happened. The way the author plotted out the book was interesting. Jumping from different perspectives of different characters and also jumping between different points in time. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it.

I really wanted to love this book. The idea behind it was fantastic... it just didn't come through as well as I had wanted it to. It seemed a bit rushed to me... maybe focusing on the character development in parts that were not needed and not adding to the story at all... it just didn't work for me. It was enjoyable, but I really wanted it to be better.

I was initially intrigued by the premise of this near future “And Then There Were None” sounding book, but while the idea is great it lacked follow through. To begin with what I did like, there were many writing touches that Avdic employs to make the reading interesting. First off, the world has an interesting premise that is ‘documented’ by a text that establishes the setting of Sweden. This gives the readers a distinct flair for the world building and was incredibly promising. Additionally, I enjoyed Avdic’s choices of metaphors during the book, they were both descriptive and full of imagery. But I had two major problems: the plot and the characters. The plot, while interesting, had some pacing issues. I felt like it switched between slow and fast and the main ‘climax’ had a strange feeling to it – like it came up both too fast, because the whole thing wasn’t really prepared for. In addition, the plot had so much potential which sort of fell short because I think the whole thing was wrapped up quite quickly. I enjoyed the suspense aspects and the cleverness of the plot, but we had no real time to appreciate it or dwell in it. With the characters, my biggest concern was that they were vague. Don’t get me wrong, Anna and Henry, our main narrative perspectives, have a backstory, but it seems barely sketched out. Not to mention that neither are quite compelling characters. The rest of the side characters are mere ghosts and serve absolutely no purpose but to advance the plot. Overall, I just wanted more from this book – in terms of more details about the future world, about our characters, and tension in the plot. All in all, these elements were just missing something and together combine to give us a somewhat entertaining read, but one that leaves just as quickly as it came.

I had mixed feelings about this book. In one sense, I really enjoyed the part where we have the candidates competing on the island of Isola. I think that part, with all the suspense and twists and turns, was done extremely well. That being said, I feel the characters were a bit underdeveloped. Also, the time period and much of the backstory had no meaning to me. It also took awhile to really get to the plot.

This is a constantly shifting puzzle that never fully wraps up until the last page. I am so glad I read it; It kept me thinking long after I finished. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery/thriller.

Was excited to get this book to read. Unfortunately, after multiple attempts, I was unable to download the book. Based on reviews, it seems like I would have enjoyed it.

First, I really enjoyed this book, the shifting perspectives really added to the feel and tension of the novel as opposed to just being a 'technique' that can be overused. I'm glad it didn't spend too much time on setting the alternate history setting because it didn't seem to really serve the main story of the novel too much; it didn't detract but I kept expecting it to go more out of left field with the setting. It works, but I'm glad, with the direction the story took, that it was limited to the time it received. The characters are great and you can feel their reticence, paranoia and worries. I cringed with and for them a few times and while the ending is not happily ever after by a long shot, it was fitting but not what I expected, so kudos. Really exciting for a debut novel, definitely will be keeping an eye out for future projects from Ms. Avdic.

The Dying Game is a clever puzzle piece with alternating perspectives that keeps you guessing. A recruiting exercise puts people on a remote island in a house with surveillance cameras and passageways. The futuristic/alternate reality setting and both past and present job prospects for Anna could have been fleshed out in a more meaningful way, as well as why such a diverse group of people would even semi-plausibly be potential candidates for some position. The elaborate test and its aftermath could easily be the result of someone in an existing espionage agency taking things too far. Entertaining if you can suspend your disbelief enough -- the settings/characters/setup are intriguing. Is there a sequel showing the candidate performing the role? The ____ Game could be a series. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Some of the elements in this novel, including the future setting and excessive detail on former work assignments, felt unnecessary, slowing the plot and contributing minimally to setting or character illumination. However, these frivolous details were quite minimal and the novel flowed quite well. The plot was a delightful mix of political intrigue and Clue. Overall, this novel was an engaging and addictive thrill ride that I could not put down.

The not so distant future looks frightening. Sweden is now part of a collection of countries that eerily resemble the former Soviet Union. It is in this environment, under the guise of a test, The Chairman of the Protectorate of Sweden engineers a dangerous game of manipulation to select a new member for the RAN Project. The participants are exploited by means of secrecy, misinformation, intimidation, isolation and drugs. The outcome of the test is unexpected, however is there really a "winner"? I highly recommend this dark, alarming thriller.

A strange book. I enjoyed it but was confused about the setting. The fairly near future aspect didn't seem to add anything to the story.I enjoyed the book but it wasn't my favorite.

This book reminded me of Agatha Christie novels. It was very gripping to me--I couldn't put it down once I got halfway. It did turn political but not in a bad way. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.

"The Dying Game" was an interesting Christie-style mystery that turned into quite a good spy story along the way. However, it is in no way clear to me why it was set in the future. The story and setting were a natural fit to Cold War Europe, which might have given it some more ominous overtones.

Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to preview The Dying Game by Asa Advic. Futuristic storyline about a young woman who must put herself in a precarious situation (fake her own death) on a isolated island. Six other people are brought to the island and they must figure out who among them killed the young woman (Anna). Set in the future, the book captures the sense of a world that is dark and dangerous. This novel is written well, however, I did not connect to the plot or characters. For those who enjoy futuristic storyliines, this is an interesting character study.

On my third attempt, I was finally able to read far enough into the novel to determine that the suspenseful psychological component just wasn't there for me. I found the delivery extremely dry and hard to connect to the characters. Don't tell me a story (with very few descriptors), make me feel like I am there...

One third into the book and all I read were thoughts about work, so I gave up. I wanted to get to the mystery/thriller part but there was too much unnecessary detail about random things.

This was an interesting story told in the future - 2035/7. What happens when you put a few people on an isolated island and have a fake murder? How will they react and will everything turn out the way you hoped? The story bounced between Henry and Anna's POV and then at the end to a few others. Some of it was scary and some of it I wanted to know more, especially about the other characters. I found the concept fascinating and kept wondering how I would react. Would I freak or would I try and figure out what happened. Would I hide until it was over or would I stand up to the "murderer."

When I first started this book I felt like I was reading a book that was part of a series and didn't really understand half of the story. Slowly, parts of it came together but overall I felt like it didn't flow for me. The actual plot of the story was decent and kept me interested, but I also never understood why this needed to take place in futuristic Sweden. I felt like the sub-plots were actually a distraction to the book itself. I would not recommend this book.

I received this book for free as part of Penguin's First to Read giveaway in exchange for my honest review. After reading the blurb, I thought this had potential. But it fell flat. It was hard to get into the story. I never connected with the characters. And the ending felt way too rushed.

I selected this since novel for an advance read after recently watching the dystopian thriller The Handmaid's Tale. Usually I stick to my favorite genre psychological suspese, but the blurb sounded like a crazy mash-up of Clue, Ten Little Indians and Nordic Noir, but this was simply confusing. Not for #Weirdos, Not SciFi ...maybe I'd recommend it to fans of conspiracy thrillers or political/police procedurals? The timeline changes and multiple narrators didn't allow me to connect with any of the characters. I skimmed forward, flipped back, reread and went forward, but in the end I wasn't loving this one. I give it 3 stars with extra credit for slipped nuances during translation +/or editing.

Unfortunately I couldn't get into this book. I found the main character boring and the story, in general, not very entertaining.

I received a copy of the this book from First to Read in exchange for my unbiased Review. The first thing I noticed was that this book was set in the future, 2037 to be exact but it did not have the feel of a futuristic book. Granted 2037 is not that far off but I guess from reading other futuristic books, I had an idea in my head of what it was supposed to be like. I wasn't disappointed by any means, just thought it worth mentioning. The second thing I noticed was that I just could not stop reading. I started reading this book on my lunch hour one day and just couldn't put it down. Finally, It seemed to be an extremely fast read although it did not have any more or any less pages than some of the other books I have read. Now to commence with my review. I do not rehash the story because you can get that from reading the blurb about the book but mostly because you want to hear what I thought of the book, not what the book was about. Room for improvement-While I did like how the chapters were headed by who was speaking, Anna, Henry, etc... some of the transitions within the chapter needed a little bit of work. The most glaring example and the one that comes to mind immediately is the scene where Anna and Henry are walking in the yard and talking. They then see Lotte and hide from her in the shadows. Seems straightforward right? Well the next paragraph has them in bed together having sex. It totally threw me! First because the background of Henry and Anna gave no indication that their relationship was headed in this direction and secondly because there was no sedge-way into the act. Once second they are in the yard hiding and the next they are in the bedroom. Yes, the background does indicate that Anna likes Henry but Henry has always been indifferent to her and his chapters even indicate this as well. The other issue that I had was that there was no background on the RAN program. Doesn't even tell you what RAN stands for. Only that it is a super secret program. I will admit that not knowing does add an air of mystery to the book and that in the grand scheme of things, this was probably the author's purpose but since these are my thoughts, it just bothered me. What was good-Like I said previously, I loved the way the chapters were based on the characters. I liked that the story was written in each person's perspective. This is a good thing because when I read a book, I like to get to know the characters and by writing in this way, the author ensured that each of the main characters told their story and their background. I was not left wondering about any of the characters at all. I got to know each of them. Even the minor characters were written about in such a way that when the book ended, there was closure on each one. The idea for the story was great. Although this concept has been explored before, (what concept hasn't) the author made it feel new and exciting. I also have to say that the little twist there at the end (not sending any spoilers, sorry) was completely and totally unexpected. Kudos to the author for that. I look forward to reading more from this author and I hope that she will consider writing more on Anna. Perhaps a sequel following Anna and what happens to her later in life. But for now, thank you for the opportunity to read this book and know that I think this would make an awesome movie. Good luck in your future writings.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I got it as part of the First To Read Program, and it was a very quick read for me. It kept me engaged all the way until the end. I liked that it was written a future time that was odd and strange to me. One review I read compared it to Station Eleven, which I also really liked. However, I didn't agree with that comparison at all. Station Eleven was more of a sci-fi book, while this one was more of a psychological thriller. The end fell short just a little for me, but otherwise, I really liked this book.

This book takes place in alternative future where the Soviet Union didn't fall. It also appears that the Scandinavian nations of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland have formed the Union of Friendship. What kind of government that formed in this alternative Sweden is vague, but feels a bit Communist. Anna is a good government worker who went through hell running an camp for refugees in Kyzyl Kum (I think in the Balkan region). She has come back mentally damaged and estranged from her daughter and mother. Anna is offered a very lucrative job offer where all she has to do is spend a weekend on an island evaluating candidates for the RAN program after her death is faked. After Anna's faked death, things go sideways. A person from Anna's past is there. People disappear. Is there actually a murderer on the island? After the characters get to the island, my reactions kept going back and forth between OMG and WTF. It also jumped amongst the characters for the first person narrative. I couldn't put it down because I wanted to know what happened to Anna. When finished I thought it was a great read but what was done to Anna was disturbing. This is the author's first book, and I hope her next is this good.

I liked this book. The characters were well developed and the plot was very thought provoking. The book had a lot of twists and turns that kept it interesting.

I felt the beginning was a bit slow to get into but did enjoy the rest of the book. Once they arrived on the island events started happening faster and I couldn't put it down. Thank you First to Read for the opportunity!

I really enjoyed this book! I thought the characters were well developed as well as the setting. I liked the twisty plot; very neat concept! I do wish the ending had a bit more detail! I would definitely recommend this to a friend!

Was a surprisingly fast read. I truly enjoyed reading this book, and throughout kept thinking how i would handle being put in that situation. Only complaint was the end. Wish we would have gotten a little more of an inside look into the characters after the game was over. Will be recommending this book to friends and family.

I really enjoyed this book. It was different than I expected, but that's what I'm hoping for in a suspenseful book! The book takes you on a journey through the story of several different characters, and it takes until the very end to piece together what's been going on all along. I'd definitely read more from Asa Avdic.

I actually liked this book. At times it was difficult to understand what was happening, but that just added to the fun. There were many twists and turns that kept me guessing as to what was happening, what was real, and how Anna, the main character, was going to figure it out. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a fun and fast read

I received an advance copy of this book for free in return for my honest review. Anna Francis has become a celebrity overnight due to her humanitarian efforts working on behalf of the union. Her next assignment is to assess small group of people selected for a special assignment. The only catch, she has to play dead. And in the midst of her assessment things change providing a plot twist no one expected and few recover from. A delightful read from start to finish. Invigorating.

An interesting idea that felt over-engineered. I didn't find anything compelling; but I was carried through to the end by just enough curiosity to know how things would get tied up.

Lots of twists and turns in this gripping dystopian novel. Compelling characters, a great plot. All in all, an interesting read for fans of alternate history.

Excellent story. Story takes place in the future and is very interesting. You want to keep reading to find out how it ends and to find out what happens to the characters.

The Dying Game was an excellent read, hard to put down! Definitely a top-notch debut for Asa Avdic. Anna Francis is a complicated protagonist who's not always sympathetic, but always interesting. She's a PTSD survivor and remote single mother in a dystopian, totalitarian society in 2017 Sweden. Lots of twists and turns and characters with unclear allegiances and motives. A group of seven comes to an isolated island for an extended job interview for a top level intelligence position. Anna has been asked to fake her own death and spent the rest of the experience observing the others from a secret hiding place, to report on how they handle the tension. Things start to go wrong and people start disappearing, and Anna has no way to reach out for help. The tension and paranoia is off the charts. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I would have liked a little more explanation at the end. But thoroughly enjoyable throughout. I look forward to Asa Avdic's next book. Nancy Masterson-Newkirk, Montclair, NJ

I thoroughly enjoyed plowing through this book! It was full of intrigue and brilliance - I could not put it down - I almost gave it 5 stars but then the ending threw me for a loop - but non the less this brilliantly composed creation proposes a hefty sum to our protagonist- enough to set up her and her daughter for life. Just one thing - she must play dead for one weekend - and report from secret hiding spots - how the others react- what could go wrong?

This was a fast read that I wanted to find out what happened at the end. The narrative and world building was at times confusing to me; but, the author made me care about what happened to Anna and why. I would give this book a 3 out of 5.

A political suspense set in a dystopic setting involving burned out civil aid Anna who is sent to an isolated island to observe potential candidates for a top ranking position. Ann and the other participants are pawns in a twisted game where no one can be trusted or actions believed. Henry, is known to Anna and complicates the role she plays as an observer. As people disappear, Anna loses her tenuous hold on stability and tragedy is unavoidable.The cruel machinations of the man who set everything in play are carried out like a game. Quick read but the characters were a little flat and the ending was unfulfilling. Definitely a page turner to get to the ending.

Observing others takes patience and can yield insights, good or bad, into a person. Being observed, however, can foster feelings of paranoia. In Asa Avdic's The Dying Game the stakes are high in a test centered upon observing.  In Sweden in 2037, a test is being conducted to find the best candidate for a sensitive position within the intelligence community. Anna Francis finds herself not a candidate but a hidden observer of the candidates, whose job it is to observe how they react to her "murder" and report back after 48 hours. When one of the candidates happens to be a former coworker, Henry Falls, whom Anna can't help but think about, her mind starts to go into overdrive to figure out what game might be playing out for them all. As candidates start disappearing from the secluded clifftop house where the test is being conducted, Anna is worried that someone is actually killing people, driving her into action that goes against her orders and changing the game in an unforeseeable way. While the ultimate outcome of this not overly outlandish premise was utterly predictable, I found that the way in which it was written was relatively compelling and certainly made for an incredibly quick read. There was little background to develop how the world got to the moderately dystopian stage it did or other details to invoke deeper investment in the story, which was confusing and would have helped to strengthen the narrative. The mental games played on Anna were fascinating, if disturbing, and demonstrate the drastic means taken in political and governmental circles to secure a desired end, no matter what the cost might be. Overall, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Overall, I enjoyed this. Lots of twists and turns that make you want to keep reading, even if some of them are predictable. My main complaint would be: I'm not sure why this had to be set in a dystopian future. It never really factors into the plot and is also never fully explained. It just felt like, "Dystopian futures are all the rage! Let's jump on the trend!"


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